He left a corporate job almost four years ago to join the BJP. On Thursday, Arun Yadav was removed as Haryana BJP’s Information Technology (IT) Cell chief following a sustained social media campaign calling for his arrest over an offensive tweet from 2017.
The campaign against Yadav took place amid the controversy caused by the arrest of fact-checking website AltNews’ co-founder Mohammed Zubair. Social media users accused the BJP leader of hurting the religious sentiments of a minority community and argued that if Zubair could be arrested over a 2018 tweet why not Yadav. He has also faced online backlash over a tweet posted last month that his critics claim was intended to hurt the religious sentiments of a minority community.
Though a BJP leader admitted to The Indian Express on the day of Yadav’s sacking that the Twitter campaign had forced the party to take action, officially it did not provide any reason for dropping the 36-year-old from his position. After Nupur Sharma and Naveen Kumar Jindal, Yadav is the third leader the party has acted against in the last two months over offensive comments about minorities. While Sharma was suspended, Jindal was expelled from the BJP last month.
Yadav, however, claimed that his removal as state IT Cell head was a routine move. He told The Indian Express, “The party has not mentioned any reasons for relieving me from the assignment. So, I am not really sure if it was due to any tweets. But, this (party move) is a routine exercise. The party can change responsibilities at any time. I am a dedicated worker of the BJP.”
Yadav said the tweet that put him in the crosshairs of the anti-BJP crowd on Twitter was from July 2017. He said he had not joined the party back then. “The said tweet was in response to remarks made by a former Samajwadi Party MP in Parliament linking names of Hindu gods with alcohol,” Yadav claimed.
The BJP leader said that on Thursday “#ArrestArunYadav started trending” on Twitter as part of a “targeted campaign”. He claimed nationalists and pro-Hindutva people like him were being targeted on social media since the Nupur Sharma episode.
“I think it was among the top three trends with over two lakh tweets at one point,” said Yadav. “People from other political parties began lashing out at me for my tweets as part of a targeted campaign. Since Nupur Sharma’s controversy, people like me, who advocate and take up nationalistic and Hindutva causes, are being maligned and targeted, especially on Twitter.”
The 36-year-old said he completed his MBA in 2009 and after stints in multinational corporations as a consultant joined the BJP as its Haryana IT Cell head in October 2018. Said Yadav, “I used to work for private consulting firms and did my MBA in 2009. After 2014, a lot of things evolved in terms of the presence of political parties digitally. I had an inclination for politics and switched from the consulting sector to the party. One of my first assignments for the BJP was the 2019 Assembly by-election in Jind in which party candidate Krishan Middha won. Over the years, my team and I have coordinated digital campaigns during UP, Punjab, and other elections.”
Arun Yadav’s online profile
Yadav built an extensive online presence as a result of his job. He has 2.2 million followers on Facebook and six lakh on Twitter, and his task was to primarily keep them engaged on issues related to the BJP’s agenda and mobilise them against the party’s rivals.
After a series of posts championing “Hindutva” during the recent Maharashtra political crisis that saw the BJP come to power with a group of Shiv Sena rebels, Yadav on June 30 congratulated “Sanatana” Hindu dharma followers and termed the development in Maharashtra as a “victory of Hindutva”.
On Sunday, he wrote on Facebook, “There is an election in Rajasthan in 2023. Brave Hindus of Rajasthan, don’t leave Congress in a position in which it can even beg.” The post received 41,000 likes and more than 3,000 comments.
Yadav does not operate only online. He has also filed police complaints against people he accused of insulting the Hindu religion. On Monday, he filed a complaint in Gurgaon against documentary filmmaker Leena Manimekalai for allegedly insulting Hindu goddess Kali. Last December, Yadav filed a complaint against stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui, accusing him of insulting Hindu gods and goddesses. He asked the police to ensure Faruqui did not perform at the Gurgaon Comedy Festival. The organisers later dropped Faruqui from the event, citing “public safety”.